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Anne Speckhard
Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the Georgetown University Medical School and author of Talking to Terrorists: Understanding the Psycho-Social Motivations of Militant Jihadi Terrorists, Mass Hostage Takers, Suicide Bombers & “Martyrs” In the last decade she interviewed over four hundred terrorists, suicide bombers, terrorist supporters, family members, close associates and hostages investigating what puts individuals on the terrorist trajectory and what might also take them back off it. She also conducted interviews with the hostages of Beslan and Nord Ost about the Chechen mass hostage takers and conducted psychological autopsies (with a Chechen colleague) on over half of the 112 Chechen suicide bombers trying to learn what motivated them to explode themselves. Dr. Speckhard has been working in the field of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since the 1980’s and has extensive experience working in Europe, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. She has provided expert consultation to European and Middle Eastern governments as well as to NATO, OSCE and the U.S. Department of Defense regarding programs for prevention and rehabilitation of individuals committed to political violence and militant jihad. In 2006-2007 she worked with the U.S. Department of Defense to design and pilot test the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq.

Entries by Anne Speckhard

ISIS's Revenues include Sales of Oil to the al-Assad Regime

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2016 | 11:56 AM


By Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. & Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D.

For months now disaffected Syrian, ISIS defectors we have been interviewing in our ISIS Defectors Interview Project have been telling us that one of the many reasons that they became disenchanted...

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ISIS Sex Slave Trade in Gaziantep, Turkey

(0) Comments | Posted April 25, 2016 | 6:33 PM


ISIS has been generating millions of dollars through the sale of women and children abducted from the regions it has conquered. While the Yazidi slave trade is well publicized in the West, we also chillingly learned through our ISIS Defectors Interview...

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American ISIS Defector - Mohamad Jamal Khweis and the Threat Posed by "Clean Skin" Terrorists: Unanswered Questions and Confirmations

(1) Comments | Posted March 20, 2016 | 1:30 PM

By Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. & Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D.

The case of twenty-six-year-old Mohamad Jamal Khweis--the American-born son of Palestinian immigrants living in Alexandria, Virginia--found by Kurdish Peshmerga forces escaping ISIS-controlled territory near Sinjar, Iraq this past week raises many...

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ISIS Defector Reports on the Sale of Organs Harvested from ISIS-held 'Slaves'

(0) Comments | Posted January 4, 2016 | 4:30 PM


Co-authored by Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D.

In February of 2015, Iraqi Ambassador Mohamed Alhakim requested the UN Security Council to investigate the deaths of 12 doctors in Mosul, Iraq who he claimed had been killed by ISIS after refusing to remove organs...

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Eyewitness Accounts From Recent Defectors From Islamic State: Why they Joined, What they Saw, Why they Quit

(0) Comments | Posted December 22, 2015 | 2:24 PM

by Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. and Ahmet S. Yayla, Ph.D.

The Islamic State (IS) is the most powerful, ruthless, horrific and well-funded terrorist group in recent history. Not only has ISIS managed to take and control a significant swathe of territory, it has...

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Terror: Whom to Fear

(0) Comments | Posted December 8, 2015 | 6:59 PM

I have interviewed hundreds of terrorists and their close associates in places as far-flung as Russia, Uzbekistan, Palestine, Morocco, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, France, Belgium and recently, I've been given unique access to Syrian ISIS defectors. These Syrian defectors repeatedly say that...

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Mothers as Terrorists: When Mothers Kill and Die to Attain So-Called "Martyrdom" Status

(1) Comments | Posted December 7, 2015 | 2:15 PM


Twenty-seven-year old Tashfeen Malik, the wife of Syed Farook, and the female half of the California mass murder spree, is reported to have pledged her bay'ah--or oath of loyalty--to ISIS just before donning black military-style attire, taking up arms, an IED,...

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The Lure of Becoming a Bride of ISIS

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2015 | 1:08 PM

Samra Kesinovic, 17, and her friend Sabina Selimovic--two beautiful, young Bosnian immigrant girls who left their families in Vienna, Austria in 2014 are reported again today to have been beaten to death after being caught trying to flee the ISIS...

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Refugees Are Not a Risk to National Security

(26) Comments | Posted September 11, 2015 | 12:22 PM

"Our concern should be about humanity, not terrorism."

The image of the body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying facedown on a Turkish beach has the world reeling in horror. Aylan's journey ended in death amid a growing crisis in Europe surrounding the plight of refugees pouring in from...

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Why Ethical Psychologists Play an Important Role in Interrogations

(0) Comments | Posted August 21, 2015 | 7:27 PM


On Aug. 7, the American Psychological Association overwhelmingly approved a sweeping ban on any involvement by psychologists in national security interrogations conducted by the U.S. government. This ban includes even non-coercive interrogations.

The vote was a knee-jerk reaction that some members...

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Stopping ISIS: Social Media, Identity and Creative Solutions

(0) Comments | Posted July 9, 2015 | 11:39 PM

Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI Director James Comey announced that ISIS is using Twitter and encryption to recruit thousands of English-language followers and send out orders. According to Comey, ISIS reaches 21,000 followers on Twitter, some that are then moved onto encrypted messaging platforms as they...

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Early Detection Key for 'Lone Wolves' Acting in Behalf of ISIS

(1) Comments | Posted July 7, 2015 | 6:51 PM


Twenty-nine holiday-makers from Britain as well as tourists from Germany, Belgium, Portugal and Russia made up the thirty-eight people killed in an ISIS inspired terror attack at a popular beach resort in Sousse, Tunisia. The lone gunman, Tunisian Seifeddine Rezgui, emerged with little...

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The Greek 'Oxi,' or No vote - Some Historical Context

(0) Comments | Posted July 6, 2015 | 2:39 PM

After five years of austerity and facing the equivalent of the U.S. Great Depression, the current Greek government Sunday held a referendum to vote on the EU, Central Bank and IMF austerity measures and bail-out plan,...

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The Difficulty of Predicting ISIS and Al Qaeda 'Stay and Act in Place' Attacks

(2) Comments | Posted May 8, 2015 | 3:38 PM

In February of 2015, Omar el-Hussein was hunted for thirteen hours and ultimately shot dead by Danish police after killing fifty-five year old documentary filmmaker Finn Noergaard at a free speech event and a thirty-seven year old Jewish guard, Dan Uzan at...

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Confronting ISIS and Rethinking the U.S. Government's "No Negotiations with Terrorists" Stance

(0) Comments | Posted February 5, 2015 | 11:38 AM

When Diane and John Foley, the parents of American journalist James Foley--who was publicly executed by ISIS in Syria on August 19--accepted (posthumously) the 2014 Oxi Day Award for their son's extraordinary courage in the defense of freedom and democracy, James Foley's father had some tough words to say. Recalling...

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The Isis 'Attack and Stay in Place' Meme and the 'Why' Behind the Charlie Hebdo Attacks

(0) Comments | Posted January 8, 2015 | 8:06 PM


While a manhunt is underway for Cherif and Said Kouachi, the alleged assailants in the Charlie Hebdo attacks Wednesday, Westerners are asking themselves what to expect in terms of further such attacks, what actually motivates them, who is behind them and what, if...

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Terrorism as the Psychiatric First Aid and 'Quick Fix' for Mental Illness

(1) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 2:32 PM

A sixteen-hour siege in Sydney, Australia ended today with the gunman and two hostages killed, three others seriously injured. The suspect identified by New South Wales police as Man Haron Monis is a fifty-year old self-proclaimed cleric who came to Australia on asylum from Iran in 1996 and was currently...

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Islamic State, Sex Jihad and Sexual Slavery

(2) Comments | Posted December 12, 2014 | 6:00 PM


Stories of Jihad al nikah or "sex jihad" have surfaced repeatedly since the uprising and conflicts in Syria. These stories include accusations of young women being recruited to rebel groups including, al Nusra and now Islamic State, for servicing the fighters...

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The Canadian Parliament Attacks, ISIS, and Echoes of the Toronto 18

(0) Comments | Posted October 28, 2014 | 12:58 PM


For many, the shooting attacks in the Canadian parliament this past week are a horrific surprise. Canada is a viewed by most as a very open, tolerant and friendly society, having welcomed many waves of immigrants from all over the world. However there...

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The ISIS Call for Women to Join Their Jihad: Love and Romance as Motivators

(0) Comments | Posted September 3, 2014 | 8:33 PM


"Love" and romance are often underestimated motivators for joining the militant jihad as recently witnessed in the case of Denver teen, Shannon Conley who was arrested April 8, 2014 while trying to board a flight in Denver with the goal of...

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